Robotic Boats Set Off On a 60,000 Kilometer Voyage

In what could be a replication of the Kon-Tiki voyage that was undertaken many decades ago to prove that Polynesians could reach New Zealand from Easter Islands off the coast of Chile, Liquid Robotics sent wave powered self propelled robots from San Francisco.

These robotic boats will use the power of waves and collect weather related data to reach their destinations safely. Each of the boats are of the size of a dolphin and will travel together to Hawaii and then split in pairs. One pair will travel to Australia and the other to Japan, and thus complete a journey of 60,000 kilometres only with the help of solar energy, wave power, weather information. The boats will collect information about water salinity, oxygen content, clarity of water, weather related data and information about waves and oceanic currents.

This information would be available online for people to monitor and the idea of the project is to popularize these robotic boats so that energy companies buy them in order to monitor offshore rigs and collect oceanographic data. The Wave Glider is not a submarine, and is a boat that travels on the surface of the sea, and uses weather related data and wave energy to propel itself further. The boat may cost $200,000 each, and is not economically viable, but can prove to be a valuable source of information about ocean and climatic conditions. It could be used by fisheries, shipping companies and travel agencies as well.

Liquid Robotics aims to break the Guinness world record for longest unmanned ocean voyage as well, and that is perhaps why I thought about the Kon-Tiki voyage.

The only difference was that the Kon-Tiki voyage was manned, where as Wave Gliders are robotic boats that will propel themselves to their destinations. I was just wondering if the drug cartels of Mexico would find these boats interesting as well, and the thought is quite unsettling. You could also take a look at the FLIP Research Vessel, which uses ocean to propel itself as well.

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